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Sabres send Halak, third-round pick to Washington for Neuvirth, Klesla

By John Vogl

Aside from claiming Cory Conacher on waivers and a deal for prospects, it was a quiet day in Buffalo -- until the trade deadline struck at 3 p.m.

The Sabres, according to a News source, sent Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick to the Minnesota Wild for undisclosed draft picks and forward Torrey Mitchell. Buffalo followed that by shipping goaltender Jaroslav Halak and a third-round pick in 2015 to Washington for goalie Michal Neuvirth and defenseman Rostislav Klesla.

Like Moulson, Halak is a pending unrestricted free agent. The goaltender was part of Friday's deal that sent Ryan Miller and Steve Ott to St. Louis. He never played for Buffalo but served as Jhonas Enroth's backup Monday in Dallas.

Neuvirth, 25, has played 13 games for the Capitals this season. He is 4-6-2 with a 2.82 goals-against average and .914 save percentage. Neuvirth has one year left on his contract, which has a cap hit of $2.5 million.

Klesla was selected fourth overall in 2000 and was acquired from Phoenix earlier today. He has appeared in 659 games, including 25 with the Coyotes this season. The 31-year-old will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.

Halak, Stewart know their time with Sabres could be short

By John Vogl

Jaroslav Halak and Chris Stewart went from a Stanley Cup favorite to the 30th-place team. It was a shock, but they're willing to make the most of their time in Buffalo.

They also know they might not spend much time in Buffalo.

Halak and Stewart, acquired from St. Louis on Friday in the deal that sent Ryan Miller and Steve Ott to the Blues, practiced with the Sabres for the first time today. It's entirely possible it was the only practice they'll ever have in First Niagara Center. Ottawa is highly interested in acquiring Stewart before Wednesday's trade deadline, while the Star-Tribune in Minnesota reports the Wild are hot for Halak.

"I’m happy to be here right now, and we’ll see what’s going to happen a few days from now if I’m still here," Halak said. "Anything can happen from now on. We’ve got three more days before the trade deadline, and we’ll see."

Halak, a pending unrestricted free agent, is 24-9-4 with a 2.23 goals-against average and .917 save percentage. Minnesota likely isn't the only club that would be interested in the goaltender.

The Senators like the 6-foot-2, 231-pounder Stewart for his physical game and scoring touch. The 26-year-old scored 15 times for the Blues this season and potted 28 goals with Colorado in 2009-10.

"You hear about all the rumors," Stewart said. "As long as I’m here, I’m going to focus 100 percent of my energy on winning hockey games for the Buffalo Sabres."

Both players quickly showed their sense of humor. It was noted to Stewart how much he stands out among the smaller Sabres.

"Standing next to John Scott out there, it’s kind of bit of an ego killer," he said of the 6-8 defenseman. "In this game you’ve got to play to your strengths, and as you can see I’m going to use my big frame to my advantage, finish checks and get to the net. I like to score those ugly goals and bang some bodies around."

Halak was asked what awaits Miller in St. Louis.

"Probably less shots," the goalie said. "He’s a great goalie, and he’s going to fit in. We’ll see how that’s going to work out for them. Like I said, I wish them good luck in the playoffs."

Jaroslav Halak

Chris Stewart

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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl | jvogl@buffnews.com

About Sabres Edge


Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington | mharrington@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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